Senator Blackburn Speaks Truth to Power on China

December 7, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) spoke on the Senate floor to denounce the past and present actions of the Chinese Communist Party.

To watch Senator Blackburn’s speech, click below or here.

You can read the transcript recorded in the Congressional Records below or click here.

MRS. BLACKBURN. Madam President, over the past few months, there have

been many of us in this Chamber who have taken Big Tech to task over

their shady and biased business practices. In more than one hearing, we

have grilled them on the privacy, censorship, and antitrust concerns

that have allowed us to keep these CEOs in the hot seat, and that

grilling has taken place by those of us on either side of the aisle.

  These are big, big problems, and they are not going to disappear at

the end of this Congress. These are problems that are going to be


  But one of the advantages of having these companies, like Facebook

and Twitter and Google, living in our phones and in our homes is that

it is much harder for oppressive governments and global bad actors to

hide their crimes from the rest of the world.

  Just last year, about this time, the freedom fighters in Hong Kong--

and this is a poster that I used on the floor just about this time,

December 9, 2019, and it shows the freedom fighters in Hong Kong. It

shows how they were making their case: ``We do not want to become like


  These freedom fighters in Hong Kong captured our attention when they

filled the streets and demanded an end to the Chinese Communist Party's

terrible crackdowns on free speech and expression. While the coverage

in the 24-hour news cycle definitely made an impact, it was the

millions of tweets and Facebook posts and videos and blog posts that

turned their movement into a collective global outcry for an end to

violence and terror in Hong Kong.

  You see, people saw what was happening there. They saw it in

realtime. Even if they didn't fully understand the politics behind

these protests, they knew that the disproportionate response by the

Chinese Government to stamp out these protests was wrong. As those

posts flowed out of Hong Kong, support flowed right back in, and having

spoken with many of these brave activists, it really meant the world to

them that they were hearing from us.

  While all of this was happening, something else--some

countermessaging, if you will--was flowing from Beijing. It was a

message of total capitulation sent by corporations, sports

organizations, the mainstream media, and even powerful national and

world leaders. They were all trying to keep the peace on behalf of

their own self-interests, but as the days and weeks passed by, their

blinders became more and more obvious.

  By that time, the online activist community had put the Chinese

Communist Party's crimes on full display.

What started as a debate on free speech and political autonomy morphed

into a full indictment of the Chinese Communist Party's crimes against

humanity, against the Uighurs in Xinjiang, in Tibet, and Inner

Mongolia, and all across Mainland China.

  Thanks to internet freedom efforts made possible by the Open

Technology Fund, tweets and videos describing the Chinese Communist

Party's intolerance of dissent escaped the Great Firewall and made its

way into Western news feeds.

  The spread of the coronavirus tore away the veil covering Beijing's

corrupt relationship with the World Health Organization and other

international organizations and revealed their scandalous coverup of

the virus's origins--all that truth right on our phones, right on our

iPads and computer screens and on every screen in the house.

  Unfortunately, for the millions suffering under the horrors of

communism, truth didn't win the day. The people with the most

responsibility to speak up stayed silent because they were fearful of

retaliation. It was too politically charged, too economically risky.

Someone might take their criticisms the wrong way, and, well, we can't

have that now, can we?

  I know from personal experience what it is like to have the Chinese

Communist Party and their allies retaliate against you. Once you speak

up, you are going to get it from all sides.

  Just last week, a member of the Chinese state media--for all intents

and purposes, I would suggest this is a propaganda minister for the

Chinese Communist Party. Well, he decided that he had had enough of

what we are doing here in Washington to expose Chinese aggression and

fired off a series of vile, sexist tweets while conspicuously avoiding

the issue at hand. It sounds fairly familiar: Attack the person; attack

the messenger.

  The thing is, he was just mirroring the tactics used by his

government. Beijing is all too happy to prey upon the ignorance of

their massive online audience and encourage accusations of racism or

xenophobia as the only acceptable responses to evidence documenting

their own racist, repressive politics. That, right there, is how you

end up with repressive regimes like the one in China gaining so much

power on the global stage when those who should know better allow their

adversaries to cow them into silence.

  I appreciate the importance of diplomacy, but diplomacy is

meaningless without consequences. Activists, by their very nature, rise

and fall based on their willingness to speak truth to power when the

most influential among us allow evil regimes to escape those


  Today, I call on my colleagues to follow their example and use their

work in this Chamber to speak truth to power about the crimes of the

Chinese Communist Party. We no longer have any excuse not to. If you

want proof, pull out your phones and listen to what activists in Hong

Kong, in Taiwan, and in Mainland China are telling you--or better yet,

listen to what some of your colleagues are telling you.

  Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong currently sits in jail for the crime

of criticizing his government. I repeat this: Hong Kong activist, a

young freedom fighter, Joshua Wong, is in jail because he criticized

the Chinese Communist party. He criticized his government. His

sentencing barely managed a blip on the radar here.

  Another Hong Kong activist, Jimmy Lai, was denied bail during his own

prosecution specifically because his online newspaper revealed the

truths of the Chinese Communist Party's chokehold on their own people.

The CCP cut off access to his corporate accounts and those of his

employees. So much for Hong Kong's free press. Jimmy Lai and Joshua

Wong live in Hong Kong.

  In June, the Senate passed a resolution condemning the CCP's

repression of speech and expression in Hong Kong. These protests are

still happening. Authoritarian crackdowns are still happening. We must

keep speaking about this.

  In Xinjiang, CCP forces are systematically targeting and eliminating

the Uighur Muslim population through mass surveillance, population

control, and incarceration in internment camps. Yes, you heard me--

internment camps. It should make your skin crawl to hear that today, in

2020, this is happening.

  Last month, I joined my colleagues Senator Cornyn and Senator

Menendez in supporting a bipartisan resolution to finally recognize

that what the Chinese Government is doing in Xinjiang constitutes a


  If you are looking for a reason to start speaking out, I can't think

of a better way to get started. Speak up on that. Support this

resolution, which would not only urge the White House to take action

against Beijing but also urge national governments and organizations to

get their heads out of the sand and tear away, piece by piece, China's

disastrous influence over the global political economy, which is

highlighted by the success of the Communist Party's Belt and Road


  I will add that I was thrilled today with Secretary Pompeo's tweet

regarding his once again reupping the countries of concern under the

International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. China is on this list, as

well they should be, as they continue to infringe on religious liberty,

and they do engage in systematic, ongoing, egregious religious freedom

violations. They are doing it every day, and the world is watching.

  I tell you, I could monopolize this floor for the next week and lay

out every opportunity we have to stand up for the cause of freedom and

speak truth to power about the crimes of the Chinese Communist Party.

  Here is a white paper that I unveiled earlier this year. There are

over 100 specific paths toward how we as a nation unraveled the

relationship that we have right now with China. The paper is only 52

pages long. It is a short version. I encourage one and all to take a

look at it and to think about how it is that we got to this point where

an influential government, active in many major international bodies,

including, as of next year, China being in the U.N. Human Rights

Council--how can this government perpetrate a genocide against

minorities and get away with it because of the appalling cowardice of

those who bear witness and choose to do nothing.

  I yield the floor.

  I suggest the absence of a quorum.